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Canadian men's soccer players refuse to play in tonight's game in Vancouver

They cite issues with Canada Soccer's leadership and compensation.
Jonathan David carries the ball while playing Jamaica. He and the Canadian men's national team were supposed to play Panama Sunday, June 5.

Another soccer game is being cancelled in Vancouver.

Just hours before they were to take the field against CONCACAF rivals Panama in a friendly, pre-World Cup match, the team's players have announced they're refusing to play.

In letter, originally tweeted out by TSN reporter Rick Westhead and addressed to the country at large and signed simply as "The Canadian Men's National team," the players state they "decided not to play our match today against Panama" due to concerns with player compensation and how the business side of Canada Soccer is being run.

"We want to work together with our organization, but the relationship has been strained for years," the letter states. "And now, Canada Soccer has disrespected our team and jeopardized our efforts to raise the standards and effectively advance the game in Canada."

They also include a list thing they want to see change and demands, including:

  • increased transparency of the Canadian Soccer Business Arrangement
  • leadership prioritizing revenue optimization that can be turned into growth of the game at all levels
  • equitable structure with the women's national team and the development of a women's league in Canada
  • a new World Cup compensation package
  • former player's from all national teams integrated into leadership rolls

"We want to apologize to our fans. Playing at home with your support is everything to us," they write. "We hope Canada Soccer will take decisive steps to work with our team so we can be back on the field for our match June 9."The team is due to play Curacao in Vancouver on June 9.

The team also apologizes to Panama's team.

Canada Soccer has confirmed the game has been cancelled, but hasn't offered further comment.

OneSoccer, which covers soccer in Canada, has reported the game is officially cancelled.

The team also missed two training sessions this weekend as part of the issues.

Previously the June 5 game was scheduled to be against Iran, but after public and political backlash, particularly about Canada Soccer paying Iran $400,000, the game was cancelled.

Canada is due to play in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar this winter.